Day 2 is in the books and a fascinating Day 3 is in prospect. An unexected day’s leave, caused by circumstances beyond my control, meant I could watch much of the last two sessions of play (and meaning that I missed the first).
England started brilliantly, getting Misbah in the first over, and then knocking over the rest in reasonably short order. While the stats show that scores over 400 are not common in Dubai, 378 must seem like a bit of a disappointment when considering the score at the start of the day. Mark Wood’s figures of 3/39 were massively impressive and a real hopeful sign for the future. Of course, when it comes to our rider of imaginary horses, we are always worried about his health.
England’s response started as many seem to these days. An early wicket, albeit through a wonderful catch at short leg, meant the Moeen experiment still remains a question to answer. That said, we’ve been looking for an answer to the other opening slot for a while now. Then Bell had a feeble nick off to Imran Khan. 14 for 2. Bell is definitely in the firing line, and he might seek advice from Trott on how to face that, with people acting like he’s got the eyesight of someone at 73, not 33. He’s in an awful rut, and maybe it is time to go somewhere else. But then, I don’t think we should exclude players because their faces don’t fit.
Those of us purporting to be anti-England must have been cock-a-hoop. We must have been fuming when a sweep shot from Cook plonked onto the bottom of the stumps and failed to dislodge a bail.
Cook and Root passed half centuries, quite serenely, and then Yasir Shah, who might as well have been Lord Lucan given the expert knowledge the English cricket fraternity had demonstrated about him (recalling this excellent article from the archives), unexpectedly broke through when our lovely leader clipped a ball to leg slip. His 65 was not quite as good as his 263, but he does look somewhere near his best (best illustrated by his confidence on the drive). This, of course, gives the lie to the “near his best” codswallop around the time of that legendary, scratchy, 95 at the Rose Bowl or whatever it is called now. A solid, hard to dismiss, and scoring at a reasonable pace Cook is something any team needs. With Warner out of form (relatively), Rogers retired, and most of the other countries in flux with their openers, Cook is the best around, probably, at the top of the list.
What can one say about Joe Root? Well, let’s not get overboard too quickly would be my first thing. I remarked on Twitter that his current form reminds me of the way Michael Vaughan was playing in 2002-3. The standard of opposition was better, but peak Vaughan was a big hundred in waiting. Root is giving off an aura something like it. I maybe in violation of my own advice! Root’s footwork and reactions are just wonderful. He gets into position, he can manipulate the ball, and he is pretty solid in defence despite the early working over by Wahab Riaz. He needs to go on to make a big hundred here to keep England in the position they’ve created. The problem here is that maybe we expect Joe to do it all the time, and then when he has the dips in form that are inevitable in test cricket, we might be in trouble.
Jonny Bairstow started very scratchily, but did open up and attack, and then made some runs. Bairstow, in my eyes, is not a keeper we could trust and not a middle order batsman we can rely upon. He falls between two stools in my eyes, but I’ve been wrong before and will be again.
So, Day 3 beckons. England 190-odd behind. Seven wickets in hand. Game in the balance. Worries about our middle order are mentioned freely in the commentary box. I am not sure I’ll be awake for the start of play.
In Colombo the visitors crumbled to 163 all out, with, yet again, most of the line-up getting to double figures. 47 was the top score, by Kraigg Brathwaite, and the spread bet line should certainly be revised after Herath took just one of the ten to fall. Dhamikka Prasad took four, suggesting this isn’t just a spinners surface. Sri Lanka are 76 for 2 in their second innings, 113 in front and looking good. Day 3 provides West Indies with a seemingly final hope.
New Zealand kicked off their tour of Australia with a match under lights and using a pink ball. I’m going to leave it with the Adam Voges thing on social media (which I didn’t see…and isn’t on his twitter feed)
Maybe it’s this quote….
“There wasn’t much pink left on it by the end of the game,” Voges said. “The one that got hit onto the roof [by Martin Guptill] and didn’t come back was 28 overs old and it looked like it was 68 overs old to be fair. To be honest, it didn’t hold up very well at all tonight.
“It looked as though the lacquer had come off and it was turning green basically. There were bits of pink left, but it was more green than pink by the end. I know that it stopped swinging, there was no reverse-swing or anything like that because both sides get chunked up equally, but yeah the older it gets, I can’t see it being any easier to see.”
We’ll be debating that, I’m sure.
Comments on the days play tomorrow, and any other observations, please fire away. Note – I’ve not read the press pages. I still need to have my dinner.
Finally, thoughts with my Aunt. Vascualar dementia is a cruel, horrible curse, and it looks likely to take her soon from us. My wishes and strength to her daughter, my cousin, and her kids, and most of all to my lovely uncle. We are all powerless as the disease takes someone we care about away from us. Love you Auntie. Say hello to Dad.